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Five Effective Leadership Qualities

May 1, 2000
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Remember the acronym ACTOR when looking for leadership qualities in a person.

Adaptable: Leaders must be adaptable to change. Charles Darwin said, "It's not the strongest of the species, nor the most intelligent, that survive; it's the one most responsive to change."

Your job as a leader is to allow change to occur and, in some cases, be the catalyst. The last thing you want is to be the keeper of the tradition that creates the roadblock to progress.

Developing a leadership quality of being adaptable will help you and the organization recognize the need for change before its too late for you or the organization. Being adaptable should be a core competency in organizations that expect to flourish in the new millennium.

Consideration: As the leader, you must consider your role carefully, but you can no longer think in terms of "the end justifies the means." You must consider the personal effect of your actions on your followers if you are to build the commitment that's required for long-term success. Leaders don't use their position to gain special perks. What's good enough for your followers should be good enough for you.

Leaders should also look to celebrate the successes of their followers as often as possible. Recognize, reward, and praise them frequently.

Don't just tell employees they're doing a good job. Use phrases such as these seven to show that you really care about your employees:

"You've made my day because of ...."
"One of the things I enjoy most about you is ...."
"I'm impressed with ...."
"You can be proud of yourself for ...."
"You are doing an excellent job with ...."
"I was impressed with the way you handled the ... situation."
"You have really made a difference in this project/team by ...."

Trustworthy: Your employees should be able to answers yes to these three simple questions about their leaders and the organization. It all starts with the person who they view as their direct leader. Chances are good that if they view the leadership as being trustworthy, the organization will also be considered a trusting place to work.

  1. Can I trust my leader?
  2. Does my leader care about me?
  3. Is my leader committed to excellence?

Creating a foundation of trust encourages commitment among the followers that will generate incredible loyalty towards the leader and the organization.

Optimistic: Leaders must provide a positive vision of the future. Develop a vision that guides your followers while allowing them to make decisions supporting that vision. Help your followers predict their future based on their own actions. Model the way with your positive attitude. Attitude is important for everyone and is critical to the leader.

If someone passing you in the hall says, "how do you feel today?," what would you say to him or her? If you didn't answer, "great!," or "couldn't be better!," then you missed your chance to positively impact the emotions of that person.

As a leader, you're on stage every day. You must be real and believe what you say, because your followers will quickly pick up on the "real you" behind any act! Set the example with your actions. When people ask me that question, I say, "great, but I'm getting better!" Sometimes I'll say, "if I were any better, I'd think I were twins!" I've seen the difference this simple approach has on people. Your attitude is the control panel to your life.

Resourceful: Leaders should provide the required training to assure that their followers are prepared for their jobs and responsibilities. Encourage collective intelligence and working with others. Break down any perceived walls within your organization.

Being resourceful can be almost anything in the context of getting things done. Don't take no for an answer. View any failure as a learning event. (There is no failure ... only a learning outcome.) Combining resourcefulness with these others qualities will provide you with the fuel to accomplish anything you set your minds to.

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